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The good news is that cats are now living longer, and nothing contributes more to the long life of your cat than regular visits to your veterinarian. There’s a reason why regular visits are so important. Cats age far faster than we do, so health problems can develop rapidly. We want to quickly catch small problems before they become major medical conditions.
Along with a detailed medical history and a thorough physical examination, your
veterinarian will order a diagnostic testing to establish baseline laboratory data.
Our senior evaluation sensitive laboratory tests that can detect the onset of diseases
and conditions early, when treatment and prevention are most effective.
Using the information gained from this evaluation, your veterinarian will provide
you with an assessment of your cat’s overall health and make any necessary recommendations.
Your veterinarian will also look for arthritis,which is common in older cats, as
well as dental disease, which can lead to serious medical conditions. For the best
care, your senior cat will need to be examined by your veterinarian every 6 months,
which is similar to the time span of 2 years in people.
Bad breath or drooling, change in activity level, change in attitude or responsiveness,
change in sleeping patterns, change in urination (amount or frequency), change in
water consumption, confusion or disorientation, constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting,
coughing, heavy or rapid breathing at rest, incontinence, lethargy or depression,
lumps or bumps on or under skin, noticeable decrease in vision (e.g.,bumping into
furniture), sneezing stiffness (e.g., trouble jumping, climbing stairs, or walking)
Most cats are considered to be “senior” at 7 years of age. As cats move into their
senior phase of life, they experience changes that are similar to what people go
Approximately 18% of cats older than 7 years of age harbor disease that is only
detectable with an advanced diagnostic workup. Fortunately, many diseases can be
treated and have favorable outcomes if diagnosed in early stages.
Cats do age more rapidly than people, so dramatic changes occur in as little time
as 3 to 6 months. In addition, cats tend to hide signs of illness. That is why visits
to your veterinarian and regular testing are essential to your pet’s quality of
Although an annual exam may be sufficient for younger cats, your veterinarian should
see your older cat at least two times a year.
Several noninvasive and procedures performed regularly can provide you and your
veterinarian with a baseline for measuring changes and can help detect early-stage
disease. These tests check for:
Routine testing combined with twice-a-year exams can reassure you of your older
cat’s continued good health or help your veterinarian begin treatment early, giving
you and your cat formidable advantage over diseases.
Age is not just a number but also a measure of the effect of aging on the body.
Variables such as genetics, nutrition, and the environment all contribute to how
your cat ages.
A proper diet and suitable environment are critical to your cat’s continued health
and comfort. Your veterinarian may advise you on modifications for your aging pet.
These may include:
New medications are now available that are safe and effective for pain management,
arthritis, cognitive dysfunction syndrome, and other age related diseases.
Cats that appear healthy may be hiding signs of disease. Certain conditions may
not even be detected during a physical exam, which is why diagnostic testing is
There are five types of basic tests your veterinarian will use to evaluate wellness.
Each one provides a wealth of information concerning the true health of your pet.
The CBS tests for anemia, infection inflammation, and overall healthiness of the
blood cells. It also evaluates the number and type of cells in circulation. White
Blood Cells (WBC’s), help fight infection or inflammation. Red Blood Cells (RBC’s)
carry oxygen to the tissues.
The chemistry panel surveys many of the organ systems of the body to make sure they
are working normally.
Liver (AST, ALT, Alk. Phos., T. Bilirubin, GGT, Cholesterol, Proteins)
This group of tests help to evaluate various functions and health of the liver.
Decreased liver function, inflammation, infection and neoplasia (abnormal growth
of cells) of the liver and gall bladder may be detected by one or all of these tests.
Kidney(BUB, Creatinine, Phosphorus, Amylase, Albumin, Globulin)
These tests monitor th e function and health of the kidneys. They are most helpful
and sensitive for detecting kidney disease when combined with a urinalysis(see section
Pancreas (Glucose, Amylase, Lipase, Triglyceride)
These tests are abnormal when there is something wrong with the pancreas or carbohydrate
metabolism (examples are diabetes mellitus and pancreatitis).
Muscle and Bone
As the name implies, these tests are useful in diagnosing malfunctions of the thyroid
gland. Hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) is common in dogs; whereas hyperthyroidism
(too much thyroid hormone) is common in older cats. Because there is no single thyroid
test that can diagnose all thyroid diseases in animals, a panel of several different
thyroid tests are used to ensure proper diagnosis.
This assesses the health and function of the urinary system. It is especially important
in older animals to help in early detection of kidney disease. While some serum
chemistries help evaluate kidney function (BUN, Creatinine, etc.), much more information
is obtained when a urinalysis is done at the same time. The urine sample is tested
for several chemical components (glucose, protein, blood and more), as well as any
cells (WBC, RBC, epithelial, etc.) and crystals.
A sample of stool is examined to look for hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, coccidia,
Giardia, and other intestinal parasites.
Serum is tested for the presence of heartworm on an annual basis. Whole blood can
also be examined in anemic animals for other parasites such as Babesia, Hemobartonella,
Your pet seems to be happy and robust. The truth is, the gradual onset of disease
in seemingly healthy pets will often go unnoticed. Once symptoms do appear, the
condition may be difficult and costly to treat and diagnose. This is why a Wellness
Exam is so important to your pet’s quality of life. Diagnostic testing is the most
sensitive and accurate method of early detection of subclinical health problems.
A Wellness Exam includes laboratory tests your veterinarian can use to diagnose
blood disorders, kidney and liver disease, diabetes, infection, cancer, thyroid
disease and other hormonal problems. Many of these conditions can be prevented,
controlled, or completely reversed if diagnosed early.
A Wellness Exam also gives your veterinarian a benchmark from which to measure future
test results should your pet become ill. A Wellness Exam is just one element of
a complete wellness program that promotes pet health. Regular dental care, vaccinations
or vaccine titers, control of parasites, proper nutrition, regular exercise and
appropriate environment also add vitality and years to your pet’s life.